Buy now, pay later (BNPL) apps make it easier to make purchases today and pay over time without being charged interest or fees. Most of these apps break your purchases down into four smaller payments due every two weeks. Affirm and Afterpay are two of the most popular buy now, pay later apps that you'll find when checking out online.

In this article, we compare the buy now, pay later services from Affirm and Afterpay to help you determine which one offers the best financing for your purchases. Our choice between Affirm and Afterpay is Affirm because it offers multiple payment options, does not charge late fees, and could help you build credit with your on-time payments. Plus, it will soon be launching a credit card that allows eligible purchases to be paid over time without additional fees or interest.

At a Glance

  Affirm Afterpay 
Amount Due at Purchase As low as $0 25%
Repayment Terms  Varies by loan type  Pay 25% every 2 weeks 
Interest 0% or 10% to 30%  0% 
Credit Check Required  Varies by loan type  None 
Late Fees None  $10, plus an additional $7 if payment is unpaid 7 days after the due date 
Number of Merchants  11,500  85,000
Popular Brands Available Peloton, Target, Best Buy, Walmart.com  Bed Bath & Beyond, Old Navy, Forever 21, Pandora, UGG 
Other Financing Products  Virtual card numbers
Affirm Savings Account
Affirm credit card 
None 

Affirm vs. Afterpay: Terms

Buy now, pay later financing is available from both Affirm and Afterpay. Affirm offers a variety of repayment terms and options, while Afterpay focuses only on "pay-in-four" lending to consumers, wherein the purchase price is divided into four equal payments.

With Affirm, you will be offered multiple payment terms to choose from at checkout. This gives you the ability to select the payment amount, interest rate, and term that works best for your budget. Some of these payment options are the pay-in-four that is common with BNPL apps, while others are longer terms up to 36 months. While credit limits vary by customer, the maximum loan amount is $17,500. Depending on which retailer you are shopping with, you may be required to pay a down payment.

Afterpay splits customer purchases into four smaller payments with its pay-in-four financing. The company does not have a minimum purchase requirement, but certain retailers may require you to spend a certain amount before this financing option is available. Your spending limit is determined by your personal profile, but it does not guarantee that your transaction will be approved at checkout. Like many pay-in-four programs, each transaction is individually underwritten for an instant credit decision.

Affirm vs. Afterpay: Credit Requirements

Affirm performs a soft credit inquiry when you create an account to prequalify you for future purchases. This soft inquiry does not affect your credit score and will not show on your credit report. However, when you do make a purchase, your credit score could be affected if Affirm does a hard credit inquiry. Additionally, your payment history and credit usage may also be reported to the credit bureaus.

Afterpay does not check a customer's credit to open an account or at the time of purchase. If you are late with a payment, Afterpay also does not report late or missed payments to the credit bureaus. This makes Afterpay an attractive financing option for people with troubled credit or who don't have enough credit history to get approved by other lenders.

Affirm vs. Afterpay: Interest and Fees

The interest rates on Affirm loans vary based on the merchant you are purchasing from. Some merchants offer a 0% interest promotion, while others may charge a higher rate. All of the financing information will be presented during your transaction so that you can make a decision before finalizing your purchase. You'll never pay more than what you agree to upfront.

If you are going to be late with a payment, you can log into your account online or through the Affirm app to reschedule your payment. Although Affirm does not charge late fees, if you make a partial payment or have a late payment, it could affect your credit score or your ability to get approved for another loan.

Afterpay does not charge interest or fees as long as you make all of your scheduled pay-in-four loan payments. You are charged a $10 fee if your payment is late. If your account is not brought current within seven days, you'll be charged another $7 fee.

Affirm vs. Afterpay: Mobile App

Both Affirm and Afterpay offer mobile apps for Apple and Android so customers can access their accounts, browse and shop at participating merchants, and pay their bills anywhere, anytime. Each app offers a personalized experience based on a user's favorite merchants, spending limit, and purchase history.

Affirm's mobile app (Apple, Android) gives customers the ability to finance their purchases at over 11,500 merchants. Customers can make purchases online or in person with the mobile app at participating stores. The app offers exclusive offers from its merchants and special financing rates as low as 0%. Customers can also open a high-yield savings account through the app, which features no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.

Customers can browse and shop at over 85,000 retailers with the Afterpay mobile app (Apple, Android). The app also allows you to make in-person purchases at participating retailers. Inside the app, you can view your purchase history, payment schedule, and shipping status of your purchases. Your payment method can be changed through the app and you can prepay upcoming payments as well.

Affirm vs. Afterpay: Other Products

In addition to buy now, pay later financing, many of these companies offer additional products to meet their customers' needs. These additional products provide additional sources of revenue and help them become the financing option of choice when it is time to make a purchase.

Affirm offers a variety of payment options beyond the typical pay-in-four loan services. During checkout, customers are provided multiple financing options so they can choose which payment amount and term work best for them.

Customers can also earn a higher rate of interest on their money with the Affirm Savings Account. This account is FDIC-insured up to $250,000 and has no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. You can open an account with just one penny. While the interest rate is subject to change, the current rate offered is 0.65%, which Affirm advertises is 13 times the national average.

Affirm will soon release a credit card, and you can join the waitlist to be notified when it becomes available. The Affirm credit card will offer pay-in-four financing for purchases over $100 at any eligible retailer. This means that you can split your purchases into four easy payments without incurring any interest or fees. There will be no annual fees, no late fees, and no prepayment penalties when using the card.

Afterpay does not currently offer any additional financing options beyond its pay-in-four loans. Instead, it focuses on these short-term, no-interest loans as it continues to build out its merchant network and expand globally.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Do Affirm and Afterpay Work? 

Buy now, pay later apps work by splitting your purchases into smaller, more affordable payments. Many of these loans do not charge interest or fees as long as the customer makes all payments on time. The apps primarily make money by charging a fee to the retailer, late fees, and (if applicable) interest on loans. With pay-in-four loans, the customer will pay 25% of the purchase price immediately, then an additional 25% every two weeks until the loan is paid in full.

Do Affirm and Afterpay Require a Credit Check? 

Affirm requires a soft credit check when opening an account, which does not affect your credit score. When you are ready to make a purchase, Affirm may require a hard credit inquiry to verify your score and provide financing options based on your credit profile.

There are no credit checks required with Afterpay. Afterpay doesn't even ask for your Social Security number when signing up for its account. Instead, your spending limits will grow based on your on-time payments and responsible use of its platform.

Can You Build Credit With Affirm or Afterpay? 

When you borrow with Affirm, your positive payment history and credit use may be reported to the credit bureaus. This can help you build credit with the credit bureaus as long as you make all of your payments on time and do not max out your credit.

Afterpay will not help you build your credit history because it does not report its loans to the credit bureaus. While this is helpful to get approved, its lack of reporting of your positive payment history will not help your credit either.

Methodology

To determine which buy now, pay later app is the best option for consumers, we reviewed numerous data points of both Affirm and Afterpay. We analyzed their fees, interest rates, financing options, participating retailers, and other features to pick our recommended lender. Our choice for the best BNPL app between Affirm vs. Afterpay is Affirm because it offers more financing options, longer terms on larger purchases, and the potential to build credit with your on-time payments. Afterpay is a good choice for pay-in-four loans to consumers who have bad credit or who are just starting out with their credit profile.